Book Review: the lives and times of archy & mehitabel

A Cockroach Who Blogs

One of my favorite poets, Fireblossom of Shay’s Word Garden reminded me of the stories of “archy & mehitabel” in a recent poem. These are old stories, but bring fond memories back to me.

I have a book, “the lives and times of archy & mehitabel” written by Don Marquis. I’ve read this book many times and still enjoy it.

The book I have was published in 1940 and in my opinion, features a character who had to be one of the most unique bloggers in history.

My book belonged to my grandfather, Dad Arthur. When I visited his library I would pick this book to read. When he died it was passed on to my father, and knowing my love for it, he eventually gave it to me.

A Timeless Literary Classic

The book is now faded with age and worn from the many times it’s been read. But that’s the sign of a well loved book, isn’t it?

I smile as I write this because it IS an odd duck of a book. The main character is a philosophical cockroach named Archy, who in his past life was a human who wrote free verse poetry. He discovers a typewriter and begins to type out his thoughts, dreams and complaints. You can see why I say he was a blogger:~)

Archy writes about his life and the multiple lives of his cat friend, Mehitabel, who claims to have been Cleopatra in a former life. He writes about the many characters they meet along the way. His stories are poignant, funny and recount situations that any of us could relate to today.

These stories of Archy the cockroach and Mehitabel the cat still make me sigh and smile in equal measure.

Freestyle Poetry By Don Marquis

One of the things I like most about this book is that it touches on the many difficulties that writers experience today. Archy’s style is unique; he writes on an old manual typewriter, jumping on the keys with his body. Here’s one of his more famous writings:

boss, i am disappointed in
some of your readers they
are always asking how does
Archy work the shift so as to get a
new line or how does archy do
this or do that they
are always interested in technical
details when the main question is
whether the stuff is
literature or not…”

Now tell me, doesn’t this apply to many bloggers? These days we deal with the same struggles Archy did when we talk to people about blogging. The literary side of writing can be easily lost while explaining the technical details.

Writing Style Models Bloggers

Archy would have been very comfortable with the freedom of style that bloggers enjoy. For example, as you can see from his poem, Archy doesn’t pay attention to capitalization or grammar; he writes about what he’s thinking or feeling in his everyday life. Sound familiar?

“the lives and times of archy & mehitabel” is still available. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys poetry written by a different kind of writer. Archy is a lot of fun to read, albeit not always an easy read; this is true stream of consciousness writing. It is also outdated in some of its stories.

I like “the lives and times of archy & mehitabel” because of its past as well as its future potential. I hold this book and know that both my grandfather and my father held it before me. Perhaps, they even laughed at the same lines as I do today.

Someday, I may give this book to my children or their children. I find it strangely comforting that a very early blogger and poet, who just happened to be a cockroach, could be the link between my past and my future.

What about you?

What older books remind you of a blogger’s style of writing?
What books have passed down to you that you continue to read and re-read?
Did you ever have to use a typewriter when writing? If so, what were the difficulties and how did it compare to our modern computers?

Artwork by George Herriman

About a Blogger: History is My Story

To be present, then and now

When people visit my house, one of the first things they say is, “Wow. You’ve got a lot of pictures!” They are right; I have photographs of people, mostly my family, on every piece of furniture that will hold them. They are my history.

These pictures are a combination of old, sepia photos of my ancestors and photographs of my immediate family. I put them together – both old and new – in a variety of frames. I enjoy looking at these pictures.

I believe it is important to learn about our history, as individuals and as a human race. Yet, we tend to make “history” the bad guy; some believe it is a collection of our mistakes. But, it is also a map that tells us how we got to where are today.

I appreciate what Cicero said about history:

“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” ~ Cicero

My favorite part of this quote is that history “illumines reality.” I like the idea that history gives light to our lives.

History that encourages inspirational stories

One of my favorite bloggers who gives light to my life is Hilary of Positive Letters…Inspirational Stories. I don’t know if she would actually call herself a history writer, but she’s taught me a lot about history.

In her posts she will often begin talking about a common everyday item – a garden, a type of food, a street name – and then introduce a different topic. She weaves these topics together so we see how their histories fit like a puzzle. I love how she does this!

Among other things, her posts have taught me that:

The first chess piece of a Bishop was made of Walrus ivory and was found in Scotland.

The history of socks is related to both the Romans and comedy.

Postal boxes have a very interesting history.

There really is something called cricket ball squash.

The fascinating development of the alphabet and words – one of my favorites! I loved how she ended this one with the following summary:

“As you can see our Alphabet developed and became mixed and more refined as the lexicographers worked their magic over time. The humans spread language, mixed roots and allowed through regional differences, their nomadic wanderings, their exploration to see ‘what lay over the ocean’, this magnificent legacy that we have today which is WORDS. A way to describe our life, remember past lives through writings and stories from millennia ago, and to converse, post and journal our way with words for our readers.”

Very appropriate for those of us who live by words:~)

Hilary is my favorite historian, mainly because she doesn’t just talk about “timeline” history. She talks about the history of everyday things and best of all; she makes her history lessons FUN.

I think Hilary would agree with Dr. Carl Sagan, since he said:

“You have to know the past to understand the present.”

Thank you Hilary! My present is always enriched by you teaching me about the past:~)

I’m a blogger and a winner!

the-winner

A surprise!

It took me a while to check in with my blog and reply to comments after returning home from my trip to Switzerland. When I finally did, I discovered a gift was waiting for me. Evita from EvolvingScenes.com had awarded me with this Kreativ Blogger Award.  It made my day!

The Kreativ Blogger Award

blogger_awardI was surprised and touched by receiving this award. I have always enjoyed Evita’s blog. Her photographs and the words she writes to accompany them take my breath away. For her to send me this award is quite an honor, even if it does come with strings attached!

As Evita said in her post when she received this award, the subtitle should be “The 7-7-7 Award” because the number 7 is prominent in the following acceptance guidelines.

The Seven Guidelines for the Kreativ Blogger Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the seven blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Seven Interesting Things about Me

When I came to this part of the award guidelines, I sat and stared at the empty white screen on my computer for some time. I thought to myself, “What on earth would other people find interesting about ME?” Okay, it wasn’t long before I realized this was Gertrude talking.

Gertrude is the part of me who believes I’m boring and uninteresting. She’s always telling me to be quiet and to not talk so much about myself. To be honest, I’m tired of Gertrude and I WANT this award! So, this time I told her to go and take a very long walk (maybe to Timbuktu!).

With Gertrude out my head, I was able to think of seven things that someone might find interesting about me:

1. I almost died when I was an infant. I had been sick and evidently stopped breathing. Fortunately for me, my father was a doctor and was able to revive me.

2. I like happy endings. Therefore, I frequently check the endings of movies and books to be sure they end well. No one likes to go to a sad movie with me because I cry very easily and not quietly!

3. I have lived in Florida my whole life; my great grandparents moved to Florida in the early 1800s. My grandfather served as bugler in the Spanish American war. I still have his bugle.

4. There are times when I just “know” things about people that turn out to be true, even if I don’t know them very well. I have also dreamt about people and events that have come true. While I definitely would NOT classify myself as a “medium”, some things I’ve known intuitively have surprised me.

5. I met my boyfriend online through Match.com. My online profile was titled, “Make me laugh.” He has done that and more. He’s a partner willing to grow and explore with me.

6. I have always wanted to be a healer – to help others find their balance in life. One area of interest I have been exploring is intuitive healing. I believe very strongly that we have amazing powers to help each other by using our personal energy, as well as the synergy created by a healing group.

7. I am proof that you can learn to change at any age. I’ll be 57 on July 11th. In the last four or five years, I’ve become much happier, calmer and more comfortable with my life. I am really enjoying who I am and my own unique path in this world.

My Seven Nominees for the Kreative Blogger Award

This was tough as there are many people and blogs I wanted to select, but I had to keep it to seven.

Davina at ShadesofCrimson

Positively Present (Dani) at Positively Present

Caroline at The Zen in You and Whimsical Whispers

Tony Single at Trottersville

Lance at The Jungle of Life

Talon at Talon

Tabitha at Fresh Mommy Blog

I hope my nominees will feel as proud as I did and enjoy the challenge of this award :~)

Is the term Lurkers a bad word?

lurker

Another name for lurker

I’ve been noticing a lot of bloggers encouraging their “lurkers” to come out of the closet and leave comments.

For those of you who may not know, lurkers are defined as people who visit blogs and don’t interact by leaving comments.

I don’t like this term.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I still remember when a lurker was described as a person who waited and watched from a hidden place. It conveys the idea of a person watching someone through a window at night. It’s a scary term for me.

I prefer to call these people “visitors.”

Post a comment – it’s your choice

I hope the visitors who stop by my blog will enjoy what they read and then choose whether or not they want to leave their calling card by posting a comment. If they choose not to, that’s okay with me. I still welcome them…as Visitors.

I can’t help but wonder why some bloggers push their visitors to leave comments. What’s wrong with someone just visiting, without commenting?

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting comments on my blog and responding to them. I understand why bloggers enjoy receiving comments. It’s an opportunity to connect with their readers and get a sense of what they are thinking and how the post impacted them.

But I also believe that readers should have a choice of leaving a comment or remaining invisible. If a reader wants to use a service offered by a blogger, there are other ways to make contact. Comment sections provide an option for readers to express their thoughts about a post, if they choose to.

Therefore, I challenge bloggers to consider these questions:

What are we saying about our “visitors” when we use the term “lurkers?”

What are our reasons for wanting our “visitors” to leave comments?

What role do blog stats play into our need for our “visitors” to leave comments?